OVERTHROW OF SAFAVI DYNASTY 313 maintained a powerful army; so that a repetition of the raid seemed unlikely. The Disgrace of the Vizier and of Lutf AH Khan.—The Persian Empire meanwhile, unconscious of its approaching doom, continued to be distracted by Court plots and intrigues. Fatteh Ali Khan, the Vizier, was accused of treason and of instigating a body of Kurds to kill the Shah in the night. Husayn, awakened from his sleep, yielded to panic and gave orders for the Minister to be executed. The wretched man's eyes were put out and he was about to be tortured to make him reveal the whereabouts of his treasure, when the Shah realized that he had been duped. A council of nobles was summoned, before whom the Vizier cleared himself fully ; but the mischief was done. Lutf Ali Khan, his brother-in-law, who had collected and trained an army for the invasion of the Kandahar province, was dismissed and, as was usual in such cases, the army dispersed. Consequently, at this grave crisis in her history Persia found herself almost defenceless through the fofiy of her feeble ruler. Signs and Portents.—The year A.H. 1134 (1721) was filled with disaster and foreboding. In Khorasan the Abdali Afghans raided unchecked, and in the west the Lesgians sacked Shamakha, the capital of Shirwan. More disturbing even than raids and the sacking of cities were the signs and portents that appeared. An earthquake destroyed ill-starred Tabriz, while the usually clear atmos- phere became dense, and the sun showed like a blood-red orb. The superstitious Persians were panic-stricken, and the astrologers added to their fears by prophesying the similar destruction of Isfahan. Calamity, terror, the cowardice of the Shah, the effeminacy of the Court, and the dearth of generals and soldiers together lowered the national moral to such a degree that probably no country has ever been essentially weaker than Iran at this critical period. The Second Expedition of Mahmud^ A.H. 1135 (1722). —The fear of invasion by Lutf Ali Khan had cowed the Ghilzais ; but on hearing of his downfall they regained their courage and decided to invade Persia a second time.